Usually, in Levallois, the churches are packed for Christmas masses. But this year, with the coronavirus, it is impossible to welcome everyone. So the parish had the idea of asking the town hall to use the Marcel Cerdan Sports Palace. The town gave the green light, even though the prefecture was against it.
The room was set up in record time on Wednesday 23 December. Father Yassek, at the origin of this event, attends the final adjustments of musical instruments, lights and decor. For him, out of the question that some of the faithful cannot attend Christmas mass:“In Levallois we have a lot of Christians. Usually we have five masses on December 24 for Christmas. The churches are overflowing, sometimes there are eight hundred or a thousand people at the same mass.
I can’t imagine myself standing in front of the church, telling the faithful that I’m sorry, that we can only accommodate two hundred and fifty people, that they have to go home.
An initiative that the LR mayor of Levallois, Agnès Pottier-Dumas, fully supports: “We have already made provisions like that for the Jewish community and the Muslim community, it was obviously normal to do it also for the Catholic community.”
The Prefecture of Hauts-de-Seine does not share this opinion. She had warned the communes, asking them not to organize such events. Contacted, she claims not to have given her consent.
The Palais des Sports de Levallois transformed into a church on December 23, 2020. (JUSTINE HAGARD / RADIO FRANCE)
On the side of the town hall, we respond that the sanitary protocol is strict: “Every other row, and two seats between each family, and the ceiling has air vents.” The priest even ensures that he feels more secure in this gymnasium than in his church.